Once upon a time, a majestic kingdom was built among the countless green hills typical of the French countryside, known to all as Disneyland (Resort) Paris.
This fairy tale-like introduction seemed appropriate to begin our review of one of Europe's most beautiful theme parks. Of course, as you might have inferred by reading the title, the resort does have some issues, but it is still able to capture our attention thanks to its fantastic themed areas and original attractions.


Before we start, there are some important disclaimers that we need to share with you:

DISCLAIMER 1: All the opinions included in this post are PERSONAL, and are based on observations we made during our most recent trip to the resort (in May 2015). We can assure you that we do not have a one-sided view of the park solely because we mostly cover the Orlando theme parks.

DISCLAIMER 2: While there are some photos included in this review, these are not the only pictures we took during our trip. A massive photo-journal covering the parks will be posted in the next few weeks.

- OVERVIEW -


Visiting Disneyland Paris is on the bucket list of many people. Europeans in general love Disneyland Paris, thanks to its amazing theming and the immersive attractions that have been entertaining Guests since opening day (some of them are even superior to their American counterparts). The fact that Disneyland Park in Paris is still the most visited theme park in Europe is not surprising.

Sadly, the fact that the number of Disneyland Paris visitors continues to decline each year is not surprising either. As you will see later on in this review, both Disney theme park are in great need of help, as very few major attractions have been added to Disneyland Park since opening day, maintenance continues to lack, and the nearby Walt Disney Studios is still regarded by many fans as the "Worst Disney Park." Disney's studio-themed parks do not appear to be very popular at the moment...

Let's now take a look at what Disneyland Paris does well and what could (and should!) be improved:

- THE GOOD -

1) Layout
The Disneyland Paris Resort - as a whole - has a great layout. Just like in the case of Disneyland Resort in California, the two parks are located within walking distance. It's a true blessing being able to park-hop without needing to get a bus, a monorail, or a boat. In addition to that, Disney Village (a very small and barely-themed version of Downtown Disney) is located right in front of both parks.


2) Transportation
The majority of the themed hotels are also located within walking distance from the parks (especially the Disneyland Hotel, New York, Sequoia Lodge, and Newport Bay Club), even though free buses run continuously for Guests' convenience (it could take up to 25 minutes to walk to the Hotel Cheyenne or the Hotel Santa Fe, but it can still be done). Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch is the only one with no free transportation (Guests get free parking at Disneyland, though).

A very large train station located right next to the parks, which also includes the RER and Metro (subway) service. Transportation is truly excellent at Disneyland Paris.

4) Security
The bag check process appeared to be much quicker and more efficient, thanks to the use of X-Ray machines. Guests not willing to use the machines have the choice of going through a manual search.


3) Theming
The theming seen inside Disneyland Park is simply superb. No other Magic Kingdom we have visited in the past matches the grandeur of the brick walkways seen around Main Street U.S.A., the amazing arcades, the backstory of Frontierland, the tropical setting of Adventureland, or the retro-futuristic look of Discoveryland. And that is just the beginning, as the attractions themselves are masterpieces.





One of the highlights is most definitely "La Taniere du Dragon," which includes a life-size Audio-Animatronic dragon. Any castle with a dragon under it automatically gets crowned as the best of them all, in our opinion. Even the castle itself is a true work of art, as it has a beautiful hill attached to its side.




Another great attraction is Pirates of the Caribbean, which has an amazing facade, an intricate queue line, an immersive loading area, an indoor restaurant overlooking the ride path, and a ride duration that is twice as long as Magic Kingdom's version. It's just one of the many must-see attractions in the park.



Frontierland is truly amazing. The entire area feels much more authentic than any other version of the land located in the United States. How ironic, isn't it? Big Thunder Mountain is the real highlight here.





In our personal opinion, Discoveryland is the only version of Tomorrowland that actually works. Thanks to its Jules Verne-inspired look, this area looks just as great as it looked when the park first opened (our first visit to the park took place around 1994-1995). Of course, we are not taking into consideration the fact that the park has been grossly negligent in taking care of the area in the past few years.




Let's not forget about the most popular themed land, Fantasyland. In addition to the typical Fantasyland-style dark rides, the land includes a nicely-themed maze, a Casey Jr. family coaster, a multi-layered castle courtyard, and much more. You feel like you are really in another world.






5) The landscaping
The flower compositions and plants seen all around the resort are really amazing. While all Disney Parks around the world are known for their great natural settings, flowers looked even more beautiful despite the cold climate typical of Paris (which we didn't particularly love, though. Having 40 degrees in May seemed surreal to us). The fact that we visited during the spring only enhanced the beauty of the park:







6) Plenty of indoor or partially-covered areas
Both Disney parks have a very large amount of indoor attractions and common Guest areas. While this is definitely needed in this particular location due to the cold weather, it would be nice to have similar areas in the stateside Disney parks. The entire main street of Walt Disney Studios is indoor, as is a section of Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. (those arcades are our favorites). In addition to that, a long, covered corridor stretches from the Pirates of the Caribbean area all the way to Frontierland.




7) Huge pigeons
There are huge pigeons.


- THE BAD -

1) Maintenance (WORK IN PROGRESS)
As mentioned earlier, maintenance was definitely not a priority at Disneyland Paris in the past, and it shows. Multiple buildings and themed facades are literally crumbling, with visible signs of aging,.Here you are just a few examples showing just how bad the current situation is:







That being said, a lot of refurbishments are currently taking place all around the resort, resulting in the closure of large areas of the parks. While these rehab projects are certainly needed, we wonder if this situation could have been avoided by taking care of the attractions and buildings before getting to this point.









2) The majority of Walt Disney Studios (WORK IN PROGRESS)
If you thought that Disney's Hollywood Studios was bad, wait until you visit the Walt Disney Studios. The park is a huge hodge-podge of unrelated IPs that are mostly represented by carnival rides and sub-par attractions. Fortunately, the newest ride to open in the park (Ratatouille) is a step in the right direction. Also, CineMagique, the Tower of Terror, and - to a lesser extent - Crush's Coaster help in partially saving the park's sad attraction lineup.








The future does appear to be brighter, though. Rumors point to the possibility of having a version of Toy Story Mania opening in the next few years next to Toy Story Playland, as well as a copy of Shanghai's Soarin' Over the World near CineMagique. Hopefully, that's just the beginning of a major expansion.

3) Smoking (STILL A PROBLEM)
Smoking is extremely bad for our health. Sadly, it looks like Europeans in general do not care about this, and this mentality is very apparent even inside the theme parks. Guests smoke everywhere, with the exception of indoor locations (thankfully!). That being said, this is not really a problem caused by the parks themselves, as they do offer smoking sections... which could be described as "ghost towns."


4) Lack of live shows at Disneyland Park (WORK IN PROGRESS)
We were only able to find two live shows inside Disneyland Park. All of the other locations were not open during our visit or were converted to meet-and-greet locations. This is another item that is being worked on, as a new Frozen-inspired sing-along recently debuted in Frontierland and a version of the extremely popular Jedi Training Academy show will open later this year in Discoveryland:


The Walt Disney Studios Park has plenty of live shows (not as many as Hollywood Studios, though). According to a recent announcement released by the resort, Animagique (the park's blacklight show) will actually be changed very soon. That will contribute in keeping the parks' offerings fresh.

5) Huge pigeons
There are huge pigeons.


- CONCLUSION -

As you might have noticed, the positive notes outnumbered the negative aspects of our latest trip in our review. Disneyland Paris is still a resort that is worth visiting, especially for those leaving in Europe. In all honesty, though, it will be a while until our next Disneyland Paris visit. Due to the high costs of flying and the rising hotel prices, we plan on checking back the resort in 3-5 years to see if at least some of the major issues plaguing the resort will be resolved.


That doesn't mean that we won't be back to Europe sooner than that, Europa-Park is definitely a place worth checking out more often. We will talk about that amazing place in a separate update. Stay tuned...

And that is all for now. Thank you for reading our Disneyland Paris review, and see you again real soon!

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